….a three minute read….
As you may already know, we partnered with Overlandi to hold vision screening and basic medical clinics in Northern Namibia. The first two weeks of the trip, the adventurous team traveled to very remote areas with necessary camping equipment and made their way to the Marienfluss http://www.namibia-travel.net/travelguide/northern-namibia/marienfluss.html. The Himba tribe, one of Africa’s few remaining indigenous tribes https://www.africa.com/africas-indigenous-tribes-preserved-cultures-centuries/ was extremely welcoming – and the outreach was a success. Both reading and distance glasses were distributed and the team was invited by the chief to camp on tribal lands – a very high honor.
Kevin has been to several African nations and has participated in hundreds of outreaches – to include his time with the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance office of EUCOM (DoD) as an active duty US Marine; but when he began GV2020 and started partnering up with smaller missionary and/or NGO groups, the outreaches took on a more personal feel. This latest one was no different.
Months ago, Jen Cooper from Overlandi, reached out to Kevin because she had simply Googled ‘eyeglasses distribution in remote areas’. Coupled with Overlandi’s goal to travel the African Continent is the very important idea of ‘it’s nice to be nice’ and both Ivan and Jen want to share good will while assisting with small medical issues. Just as GV2020 is not a substitute for an exam by and ophthalmologist, the Overlandi crew is not a substitute for a doctor’s examination; but opportunity for either of these exams is nonexistent in the most remote areas of the world, and the GV2020/Overlandi team brought their skills to those regions for just that reason.
Having Overlandi as our intrepid guides allowed us to get into some of the most remote and distant areas we have yet to visit. What we are working on now is sustainability in those areas. Our goal is to have a presence in these areas on a yearly rotation, so when someone receives a pair of eyeglasses they are fitted for a new pair (if necessary) the following year. Creating that market for eyeglasses is about overcoming the issues of lack of awareness and the cultural barriers to wearing them. We must also meet the needs of the people where they are, which is why continuing to build logistics solutions while partnering with last mile distribution groups is imperative.
And although Global Vision has worked in very remote and impoverished areas, we have always had a ‘hub’. A place to call home at the end of the day. This trip was our first attempt at a more nomadic approach – camping and moving along to new locations for eyeglasses distribution. It worked. The USee Vision Kit is the size of a large piece of luggage and can fit in the trunk of a car, or the back of a pick up truck, making it easy to transport. In fact, as we continue to grow and learn, we are devising new ways to package, ship and distribute the Vision Kits. Making them ‘greener’ as well as more efficient for shipping, transport on the ground, and restocking. All very important goals for sustainability.
And it’s not always easy – there are real impediments to travel; but seeing a smile like the one in the video below when a young adult received his first pair of eyeglasses was priceless. And it’s why we do what we do, and why we go where we go. Thanks for your support!